MercoPress | Thursday, 07 December 2006
Mercosur/EU talks depend on the Doha Round
As long as the Doha Round is pending, “significant advances” in negotiations with Mercosur for a free trade agreement will not be forthcoming anticipated on Friday the European Union External Trade Commissioner, Peter Mandelson.
“We’ve invested much time and effort in these negotiations, particularly by my predecessor in the job (Pascal Lamy). My task is to keep negotiations going and as such we are committed to the free trade agreement with Mercosur”, said Mandelson.
"But we won’t be seeing “significant advances” in these discussions until we know for sure how the (World Trade Organization) Doha Round evolves”, cautioned the EU high official.
Mandelson argued it was more convenient “to concentrate” in a successful outcome for the WTO negotiations and in parallel “to keep different bilateral free trade options open, one of which is Mercosur”.
Current Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and since this year Venezuela) discussions with the EU were launched in 1999 but are currently stalled over openings for investment and services, as demanded by the EU, and over market access for farm produce, which has become the South American block standing condition.
When asked about Mercosur latest proposal, Mr. Mandelson described it as a “take it or leave it” document which anyhow Brussels will consider it to try and improve “when the time is right”.
“But this is not the moment”, said Mandelson who added that Mercosur should also make an effort in improving the latest proposal on services, investment and manufactured goods so we can conclude the EU/Mercosur agreement in a way that is as “much successful as ambitious”.
Earlier in the week the EU proposed the beginning of negotiations for association agreements with Central America and the Andean Community in 2007. Negotiations would govern all facets of relations between the EU and these regions, political dialogue, cooperation and trade.
Trade Commissioner Mandelson said that "these agreements will establish the foundations for deep trade and economic relations between the EU and the Andean and Central American countries. They will help build regional markets, attract investment and develop trade".
With the Association Agreements EU aims to foster a deeper political partnership with both regions based on promotion of human rights, democracy and good governance, “a commitment to defend these common values on the world stage and to develop multilateralism”.
The Agreements will set out the conditions for the gradual establishment of Free Trade Area between the EU and the two regions, and develop both intra- and bi-regional trade exchanges.
“Negotiating with the Central American countries on a region-to-region basis, EU expects to provide further impetus to regional economic integration processes and to contribute to higher economic growth and gradual improvement of quality of life for their peoples”, added the EU Trade Commissioner.